Idealism: Idealism as a philosophy had its greatest impact during thenineteenth century. It is the conclusion that the universe is expression of intelligence andwill, that theenduring substance of the world is the nature of the mind, that the material is explained by the mental.
According to idealism “to be” means to be experienced by a person. Idealism holds that the order of theworld is due to the manifestation in spaceand time of an eternal and spiritual reality. If we study the basic principles, Idealism argues that reality,as we perceive it, is a mental construct. It means that experiences are resultof sensory abilities of the human mind and not because reality exists initself, as an independent entity. In the philosophical term this means that onecannot know the existence of things beyond the realm of the intellect. Platodescribes “reality” in his Theory of Forms. For him the “Form” is actualsubstance of ‘Things’ which ‘Formed’ matter and perceptible reality.
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Platowants convey the message that matter is real and can be experienced as arational living entity; it is not a mere projection of consciousness. Accordingto Knight (1998) Augustine (354-430), Rene Descartes (1596-1650), GeorgeBerkeley and the German philosopher Immanuel Kant and George William Hegel arethe prominent names who represent idealism. Berkeley and Kant have interpretedidealism in very different ways. Kant described idealism as transcendent,whereas Berkeley called it ‘immaterialism’ which is commonly termed assubjective materialism. George Berkeley says that the material world existsbecause there is a mind to perceive it and that things which are not within theconceptual framework of the human mind cannot be deemed real.
Berkeley admitsthat objects exist, but their presence in the physical realm is as long asthere is a mind to perceive them. For this Berkeley has used a Latinphrase ‘Esse est percipi’ (to be perceived).On the other handKant is of the opinion that reality exists independently of human minds but itsknowledge is inherently unknowable to man because of sensory filters in ourconsciousness.
These filters slow down our ability to see the ‘thing initself’. Thus our ultimate perception of things is always through the mind’sfixed frame of reference (Shahid, 2008). Idealism and stages of education: Plato has also divided the process of education into five majorsteps; 1. Age7 to 18; study general mathematic, music, astronomy and so on,2.
Age 18to 20; considers best for physical training,3. Age 20 to 30; study of logic, knighthood, and mathematics4. Age 30to 35; study of dialectics5. Age 35to 50; practice of dialectics in various official affairs in the state6. 50 years+; a person can become a philosopher or king as his tern comes. Plato says that in each step the person is given with differentsort of education. He suggests screening those in each step who cannot performwell. The ones who can successfully pursue all the six stages can be calledphilosophers who have the understanding of the form of good.
Implications of idealism in education:Idealism has three mainimplications for education: 1. Emphasis on theory before practice 2. Emphasis on logical thinking 3. A high value attached to liberaleducation. Idealism prescribes certainfundamental aims of education which are directly influenced by the aims andprinciples of life. In this context Ross puts forth the view, “The function ofeducation is to help us in our exploration of the ultimate universal values sothat truth of the universe may become our truth and give power to our life.
”Some of the important aims of education as laid down by idealists are givenbelow (1) SELFREALIZATION. According to idealism manis the most beautiful creation of god-His grandest work. It lays great stresson the exaltation of human personality it is self-realization Theaim of education is to develop the self of the individuals highertill self-realizations achieved It is in fact makingactual or real the highest potentialities of the self.(2) UNIVERSAL EDUCATION. Education according toidealism should be universal in nature. The universe is regarded as a thoughtprocess.
Education should be based on the teaching of Universal truth from thestand-point of rationality of the Universe(3) SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT. Idealists give greaterimportance to spiritual values in comparison with material attainments. Accordingto Rusk, “Education must enable Mankind through its culture to enter moreand more fully into the spiritual realm, and also enter more and more fullyinto the spiritual realm, and also enlarge the boundaries of spiritual realm”.(4)TRANSMISSION AND PROMOTIONOF CULTURAL HERITAGEThe aim of idealistic education isthe preservation; enrichment and transmission of culture, Education mustcontribute to the development of culture .Itshould help in enlarging the boundaries of spiritual realm(5)CULTIVATION OF MORAL VALUES According to idealism,man is essentially a moral being.
Therefore, moral, intellectual andaesthetic aspects of his personality should be promoted. According toDr.Prem Nath “The process of education must lead to the deepest spiritual insight and to the highest moral and spiritual insightand to the highest moral and spiritual insight and to thehighest moral and spiritual conduct .” (6) PREPARATION FOR A HOLY LIFE Idealism prepares anindividual for a holy life. Frostbelt says, “The object of education is therealization of faithful, pure, inviolable and hence holy life”.(7) DEVELOPMENT OFINTELLIGENCE AND RATIONALITY Idealism wishes that education should develop themind fully.
It makes a person rational as well. Only the highly developed mindcan understand the all pervading force. The idealists believe thateducation must help in the full evolution ofmind , the emancipation of spirit, self realization and the realization of higher values oflife and to train the whole man completely and fully for manhood and not some part of man. Purpose of Education:The purpose of education is to contribute tothe development of the mind and self of the learner. The education-imparting institute should emphasizeintellectualactivities, moral judgments, aesthetic judgments, self-realization, individualfreedom, individual responsibility, and self-control in order to achieve thisdevelopment. In an idealistic education system emphasis should be placedon developing themind, personal discipline, and character development. A person should beliterate and of good moralcharacter The aim of education is to brings the child as close to AbsoluteTruth as possible.All of theaims of the idealist as educator find their ground in the conception of Ultimate Reality and the students’ relation tothis Reality.
The Concept of Student: The learner is a spiritual being in theprocessof becoming. His is a finite personality which, with prober molding andguidance, might more like the Ideal or the Absolute. Man is, in a sense, asmall representation of the Absolute Self. The student must bring himself closer to the Absolute through imitation of the teacher and through study ofthose subjects which bestrepresent or symbolize the true ideas of which the human race has knowledge. The Concept of Teacher: Idealists have highexpectations of the teacher. The teacher must be excellent, in order to serve as an example for the student,both intellectually and morally. Not a singleelement in the school system is more important than the teacher. Theteacher must excel in knowledge and in human insight into the needs and capacitiesof the learners; and must demonstrate moral excellence in personal conduct andconvictions.
The teacher must also exercise great creative skill in providingopportunities for the learners’ mind to discover, to analyse and to applyknowledge to life and behavior. The curriculum: The idealistcurriculum which places a considerableemphasis on the study of history and the reading of biographies. Both ofthese are evidently reflections of theHegelian influence on American education.
Certainly it is assumed by the idealiststhat through the study of the past, we can find appropriate truths around which to model our present behavior. Along withhistory and biography, the idealist curriculum emphasizes the study of thehumanities. Underlying the selection of materials is the concern for selection of subject matter that deals with ideal man andideal society. Thus, we find the idealists strong in their belief that the”proper study of mankind is man” and interpretingthis to mean the history of the human race. Books are the source of this subject matter, the subject matter of ideas.To understand society and life we must study history.
To understand manwe must study literature and the humanities.The idealist wants to see the entire and absolute pattern of life and, in order to do this, history and thehumanities are the most important subjects. The curriculum is based upon theidea or assumption of the spiritual nature of man. Idealism and Method of Teaching: Idealism istraditional philosophy of education in which teacher has centeral role who hasto be role model so that the students will adopt his model to become goodcitizen. In idealism the lecture method is considered the most important one inwhich a delivers lecture and students listen to the teacher. Teacher selects anytopic or issue for teaching first he teaches the topic then asks the questionsabout that topic.
Students answer the asked questions, Teacher provides thefeedback and students improve themselves according to the teacher’s feedback.This is teacher centered approach therefore students do not participate in awell manner and do not understand the taught content. This method of teachingis not suitable for young or elementary level of students because they are nothabitual for listening long time. This method is only used for adults. Becausetheir mind is mature and they can understand easily. Thesecond method that suits idealism the most is the Socratic Method in which theteacher involves the students in learning activities. The teacher raises anissue and the students are encouraged to discuss it in a dialogue form andreach to a conclusion.
Methodology, for the idealists consist of lectures, discussion and imitation. Learning is an exercise in stretching the mind toits fullest so that it can absorband handle ideas. Imitation should be of some exemplary persons who by their behavior give evidence thatthey are close to the nature of reality. Idealism and assessment: In idealism Assessment is a means for focusing teachers’collective attention, examining their assumptions, and creating a sharedculture dedicated to continuously improving the quality of higher learning.Assessment requires making expectations and standards for quality explicit andpublic; systematically gathering evidence on how well performance matches thoseexpectations and standards; analyzing and interpreting the evidence; and usingthe resulting information to document, explain, and improve performance.
Inidealism teacher has the central role then the child, so he can assess thechild’s learning by asking him certain questions based on the information thathas been provided by teacher’s lecture or from the text book used in theteaching learning process. Criticismsof Idealism: Idealism has been influential in education fora considerable amount of time. Science today has challenged idealism and brought about challenges toidealistic principles. Science isbased on hypothesis and tentativeness, but idealism promotes a finished and absolute universe waitingto be discovered. Idealism has often been linked with traditionalreligion. The weakening of religion has led to the weakening of idealism as a philosophy. Here are most common criticisms of this philosophical school.
1. Sets Unobtainable Goals: For the educator who is concerned with havingthe child reach out and grasp the Idealthere are two significant problems. First, if perfection is unreachable thereis very little desire on the part of most to become perfect. For theidealist studentthe goals are often too faraway. Second, the idealists have set up a final goal: to know the Ideal and become part of it. This impliesa finite tend and as such means thatwe have a final end in view. 2.
Ignores the Physical Self: If we try to ignore the bodyit soon intrudes itself uponus. We do, whether we like the idea or not, react to and fake into our mind an deal with, on the intellectual level, suchquestion as whether or not we are hot, cold,hungry, tired, happy, or sad. We will often give our greatest thought to changingor modifying our physical realm, particularly where we are trying to avoiddiscomfort. 3. Deemphasizes Experience: Many ideas cannot have meaning apart fromexperience. The ideas of heat and cold are not simply logical constructs, butways of describing certain sensations foundonly in experience. This is not meant to imply that all things must be root endingexperience. 4.
Leads to Totalitarianism: Some of the critiques of idealism is that isdiscourages the progress of science. Toonly concentrate on the classic writings is to waste a vastamount of wonderful knowledge that has been gained through contemporary writings. 5. Emphasizes Humanities: The idealist philosopher demands that all mustconform to the laws which are the immutable working of the Ideal.
There is, in idealism, the assumption of auniversal morality which will lead to theperfect moral and ethical order. Since much, if not all, of this hasan optimistic, humanities oriented outlook, it may lead to a rejection of the whole concept of a technological society. 6. Overlooks possibility of Error: Perhaps the greatest failing of anyphilosophical system is that it fails to take into account thepossibility that it may be in error. This is especially true of idealism sinceits truth is immutable and unchanging.
Even were the Ideal to change, as longas the notion of the Ideal is accepted as such then idealism has built into it its own verification .One final comment seemscalled for before moving on to the next philosophical –educational system. Idealism, likemany other systems, is dependent at any giventime for its definition of truth upon certain spokesmen who would seen to bebetter able to know the Ideal. This can often lead to conflict as to the Truthof one world system as opposed toanother. The whimsical sight of two idealist scholars standing off and yellingat each other, “My Truth is right, your truth is wrong,” is tempered somewhatby the picture of two hydrogen bomb holding despots standing off and yelling the same thing at each other.